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Paul McCartney became known as the “cute Beatle,” but his dad didn’t think of him this way when he was born. The musician was Jim and Mary McCartney’s first child, and Jim was taken aback by how ugly he found his newborn son. When he went home from the hospital after meeting his infant son, Jim admitted to crying for the first time in years.

A black and white picture of Paul McCartney and his dad, Jim, sitting in wooden chairs.
Paul McCartney and his dad, Jim McCartney | Keystone/Getty Images

Paul McCartney’s dad worked as a salesman

McCartney was born June 18, 1942, to Jim and Mary McCartney. The couple married in 1941. Jim worked as a cotton salesman, and Mary was a midwife. When McCartney was born, Jim was also working as a firefighter at night. 

Though Jim had a respectable job, his career was less lucrative than Mary’s work as a midwife. When she died in 1956, McCartney’s first reaction was to wonder aloud how the family would survive without her income.

“The first thing I said was, ‘What are we going to do without her money?'” McCartney said, per the book The Beatles: The Authorized Biography by Hunter Davies.

Both McCartney and his younger brother Mike felt guilty about this comment for months.

He wept when the future Beatle was born because of how bad he looked

McCartney was born in a private ward at the hospital because his mother had once been in charge of the maternity ward. Jim could also visit whenever he liked because of his wife’s former position, so he was able to see his son immediately after he was born. Jim was shocked at the sight of him.

“He looked awful, I couldn’t get over it,” he said. “Horrible. He had one eye open, and he just squawked all the time. They held him up and he looked like a horrible piece of red meat. When I got home I cried, the first time for years and years.”

Ultimately, though, the young McCartney grew into his looks.

“But the next day he looked more human,” Jim said. “And every day after that he got better and better. He turned out a lovely baby in the end.”

Paul McCartney said his dad helped shape his outlook on the world

McCartney said that as he grew up, he inherited much of his outlook and temperament from his father.

“I’m very practical, and my father was very sensible and raised me to be a sensible cat,” he told GQ in 2018. 


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He explained that he was much more cautious than his bandmate John Lennon because of his father. 

“I’m more careful in everything,” he said. “My dad is a very strong factor in this. He was an ordinary working-class guy, very intelligent, very good with words, but his whole philosophy was to think it out a bit. So that, that turned out to be my sort of way. Whereas John, you’ve got to remember, didn’t have a father. John didn’t even have an uncle. He went to live with the uncle — the uncle died. His dad had run away. So John felt like he was a jinx on the male line, he told me. I had a father. He was always spouting to be tolerant. Moderation. These were words he used a lot, and I think I listened.”